Here are some things I specifically learned from the hospital staff:
1. No one will agree. Not about when or if you should take your meds. Not about how active you should be after a c-section. Not about the appropriate weight of your child and how to maintain that weight. And definitely not about breastfeeding. The only thing to do is to use your intuition – find the one person you trust and only listen to them. Politely nod to everyone else.
2. Since no one will agree, it is inevitable that you will be told you are doing something wrong. It might be that you are keeping the room too hot (or cold) for the baby or it might be that you aren’t trying enough different breastfeeding positions. This will make you feel like shit (partly hormones, partly insecurity). Refer back to my solution in the previous comment. Hopefully, whoever you choose to listen to will not be judgmental.
3. Just because someone is a nurse or a physician, it doesn’t mean they aren’t crazy. I had a nurse tell me how immunizations are related to autism in children. Yes, this is a belief held by some people, but held by very few people in the medical community. Of course she told me about this after she spent 15 minutes telling me why she would never have children.
4. Apparently, according to hospitals, sunlight is not necessary to speed recovery. I had an interior room for 4 days with artificial light in a fake window. I never knew what time of day it was or what the weather was. When I left, it felt like an escape.
5. If you need medication, more maxi pads, and yes, even tissues, call your nurse. No one else will be allowed to fetch you anything.
6. If you are modest, pray that you have a vaginal birth so you are in and out. Otherwise, get over it. While you are breastfeeding you may have any type of visitor from a nurse to the food delivery person. When the nurse comes to check out your incision, whoever is in the room will also get to see your incision (and remember where your incision is). And, not all personnel knock so always shut your bathroom door even if you are the only person in the room.
And perhaps the most important thing I learned about the hospital:
7. A hospital is simply a place of policies based on risk assessments. No one will agree on how best you should feed your child, but everyone will agree that if your child gets close to losing 10% of his birth weight there is a problem. Everyone will also agree that you can only take your baby out of the room if he is in his mobile crib. And God help you if you try to leave the hospital without the baby securely (according to the discharge nurse) fastened into his/her car seat. All of these things are cardinal sins (read – high risk) and you will get tagged as a lacking (not yet bad) parent.
And the final thing I learned about hospitals:
8. You will leave them. And when you do, whatever happened in that small, cramped room with one bathroom, one sink in the main room, 2 sets of grandparents, one bed and a cot won’t matter at all. You will have your baby and you will get to decide what is best for him.